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YUMA TO QUARTZSITE TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, WHERE TO GET GREAT PHOTOS, WHERE TO HIKE WITH FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS AND CHEVY TRUCK BUILT LIKE A ROCK…..

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We headed to Quartzsite where we were treated to a nice boondocking spot at the LTVA BLM (Long-Term Visitor Area-Bureau of Land Managment).  We could have stayed there for 2 weeks for the cost of $40.00, there is a dump, trash and potable water available. Also there are people who stay for the whole season, (7 months) for something like $180.00. Pretty reasonable place to be.  It is about 2 miles from  Quartzsite, which is where the Big Tent (RV Show) is held as well as the gem show.  Oh, the rocks, were everywhere.  Poor Eris feet.  I tried doing yoga outside and I used the rocks under under my mat as pressure point relievers.  We can only imagine what this place was like during the rv show.  Quartzsite truly is a nomad mecca.  We do plan on coming back for the Big Tent next year. Our campsite was nice and private in a big field.  But no one really was that close to us.  It was super windy when we were there so the dust and sand was everywhere.  But can’t expect much different since it is the desert afterall.   We spent 4 nights there, had 4 beautiful sunsets and then  it was time to head to Joshua Tree.  

We arrived to Joshua Tree, South BLM after a couple hour windy drive.  We couldn’t have been any closer to the Joshua Tree sign even if we were staying inside the park.  First thing after we got camp set up was to head into the park to the Visitor’s Center, where we got the maps and lay of the land.  Of course there was not much we could do with Eris so it was a mostly drive thru park.  We did stop and see alot however.  The park is layed out and is condusive to pulling off and seeing and climbing up and over rocks, which we did.  We were able to take Eris on two trails, one honestly really sucked it was supposed to be an Oasis and the other was Keys View which was a beautiful overlook, not really a hike.  This is a beautiful park.  Joshua Tree is famous for it’s namesake the Joshua Tree, which is only found here.  The park roadway winds it’s way from the Colorado Desert to the Mojave Desert where all the Joshua Trees are.  It is such different landscapes.  We drove through the campgrounds to see what it is all about.  While they would have been nice to stay in, we were quite content to be right outside the south entrance for free.  We had the same amenities they have except we had a lot more space.  Basically outside the park on the south entrance there really is nothing.  We did find some hikes the pup could do we picked one called the Painted Canyon.  The drive to the hike was as beautiful if not in some spots as driving through the park.  We realized that Eris while she is a 3 mile dog in normal conditions she is a 2 mile dog in the desert.  After the canyons we went down to check out the Salton Sea.  Very interesting, it is a body of water that was made by accident.  Sadly the accident was pollutants.  There is the highest concentration of salt in this body of water that only two forms of sea life exist.  However, it was nice to smell the salt water as we haven’t had that scent since Mississippi. Also, what I noticed while we were having our picnic was the sound of the sea birds.   Down there they offer camping, fairly reasonable with hookups. But there really is nothing to do there.   

One day Mike had me drive him up the mountain from the campground so he could ride his bike back down.  He smiled all the way down. 

If in the area and need someplace to stay I highly recommend Joshua Tree South BLM, great space and super great cell service, amazing sunsets and great stargazing.

Best place for photos in this area is in Joshua Tree National Park at all of the pull offs.  Supposidly the best place for a sunset photos is at Keys View.  We couldn’t get a parking during the sunset so we came back in the daytime.  The sky was sadly hazy. I got better photos elsewhere in the park and I got amazing sunsets at our campsite.  Also, I highly recommend doing the other trails in the area outside the south of the park.  I got some amazing photos of canyons.

Oh where can the four legged friends go, all over Quartzsite and the BLM land around it, only two trails in Joshua Tree and mile and miles of trails by the Painted Canyon. 

We have done a lot of upgrades to our home, I would like to take the time to mention one a week. However, this weeks is not our camper it is our truck.  All I can say people if you are planning on going off road, make sure you have the proper vehicle to get yourself unstuck. Mike had to pull two people out of the soft sand. One couple spent the whole night in the sand in the park, the other rescue was in our campground.  

The weather was warming up so it was our time to move on and up, so follow along to see where our next adventures will take us.  

Don’t forget to explore, discover and dream and ask yourself what are you waiting for, life is short.

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Safe travels,

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowerrider camping hound.

Tucson to Why….why you ask, well read all about it below….and then on to Yuma..

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Last week I left off with us at El Pais in Tucson and we were headed to Organ Pipe National Monument.  We arrived at our boondocking (no hook-ups) spot at Gunsite Wash BLM (Bureau of Land Management) set up our home for the next few days and went to the National Monument to be able to make our plans for the next few days and to see what, if any, trails Eris could hike on.  

Gunsite Wash BLM is in Why, Arizona.  It was an excellent and free campsite with amazing sunsets, (and probably sunrises, they happened before I was up), privacy and amazing cell service.  While there was no trash, or hook-ups of any kind in the area we were able to go to a campground in Why, Coyote Campground to take care of all of that when we we left, for $12.00. Speaking of coyotes, we heard them in the distance.  Why (haha) stay here, because it is free and a great place to be to go to Organ Pipe National Monument, the beautiful sunsets and peace and quiet.  Why has a gas station and the campground and nothing much else. There is plenty of hiking that can be done in this area and/or biking.  We did take my bike off the rack for the first time and I went out exploring, it is huge and man am I out of biking shape. 

 Why you ask, that is the question and we don’t have the answer.  If you ask where we would answer Why.

There is another little town about 10 miles away, called Ajo. Ajo is an old, little mining town with a town plaza, built in 1917. Which has a train depot with a visitor’s center, which was closed at our time of visits.  Mining was the operation of the times and we went up to check out the Mine Lookout. It has a visitor’s center but when we were there it too was closed.  So all we could do was look through the fence. The mine pit is over a mile in diameter.  John Greenway was a business man who had settled in Ajo, he was the general manager of the mining company.  He was married to Isabella who was the first congresswoman for Arizona.  John built Isabella a beautiful home in Ajo.  He died shortly after it was built.  The employees made a cross out of flowers for the funeral.  Isabella had it caste in concrete and brought it up to the top of the mountain, which can be seen for miles in all directions.  Our trip to Ajo was to sightsee but mostly to do laundry and pick up a few provisions.  

The reason for even going this direction was to to go to Organ Pipe National Monument.  Organ Pipe has a visitor’s center where all the information can be found.  Our trip has been to be able to find hikes we can take the pup on.  There is not much in this park.  Organ Pipe is known as the “Green Desert”.  There are 2 distinct plant commuinities the Lower Colorado Valley and the Arizona Upland.  The Lower has adapted to North America’s hottest climate it is the dryest of the Sonoran Desert the Upland is the wetter of the Sonaran Desert.  There are 28 cactus species but most prevelant is the Saguaro and Organ Pipe. Organ Pipe is a  large rare cactus in the US. The Organ Pipe blooms in May, June and July, we won’t be here to see.   Organ Pipe is more common in Mexico, which is on the border of the National Monumnet.  There are warnings about illegal (I hate to call people that) about them being there, don’t pick them up, watch for people with black water bottles and carrying packages.  Border patrol is the most prevelant in the park. Border Patrol reports that there were over 4,000 arrests and they seized approximately 100,000 pounds of marijuan in Organ Pipe during 2013.   We did not see anything or anybody who didn’t belong while we were there.  We did  get to see the wall. There are two beautiful and yet distinctly different scenic drives.  I am glad we had a truck to to them in.  One is the Ajo Mountain which is 21 miles long we spent one day doing that one, because after all you can’t go fast and there are so many overlooks and hikes to see and the other is the Puerto Blanco Trail which is 41 miles and would only recommend doing with a high clearance vehicle.  It is 41 miles long and took us nearly 6 hours, of course we did do a couple hikes on this road.  While in the area be sure to make the trip into the park it is worth the time. While there wasn’t any hikes we could take Eris on we did do the few we could and our quest to find more hiking trails for her continues. 

After spending 5 super peaceful nights at Gunsite Wash it was our time to go, we headed up 85 to I-8 to Yuma.  There was a beautiful mountain pass we had to do.  I’m not going to lie, while they still freak me out they aren’t as bad when there isn’t construction and plenty of room. We made it to Yuma, we weren’t 100% sure where we were going to stay.  We ended up in Kofa Co-Op which is an Escapee’s only park and 55 + as well.  It has a pool and nice laundry facilities and super nice people.  

What I am digging about this lifestyle is the ability to take the time and stop and smell the roses.  On our way from Gunsite Wash to Yuma Mike saw on the map something about Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and Campground.  We needed to stop, because you never know if you will get the chance again. Take the time and pull off when you can.  Painted Rocks is an  ancient archaelogical site containing hundreds of rock etchings.  It does not take long and we were able to stop, stretch and and have lunch, because afterall we have our home with us.  This was worth the stop for sure.  

Yuma has it all.  Honestly if we didn’t have our homestead in Florida we could easily find ourselves spending our winters here.  It has a cute little “old town”.  While in the area we wanted to see the BLM land that was around, which is mostly in California.  While exploring we stumpled upon Tumco.  Another off the beaten path.  Tumco is an abandoned gold mining town and is one of the earliest gold mining areas in California.  In it’s span of 300 years or so, it had several periods of booms and bust.  It was pretty cool. Again, if you have the choice while traveling to stop and see things, do it.  

Back to Yuma.  We stayed in a full hook up site for 7 days.  Got laundry done and made many trips to The Home Depot.  We ate at a Chili’s for the first time since the pandemic.  Very interesting.  There are malls and everything here.  While we were here we did go on a 3 mile hike at the East Wetland Park.  Partly wooded and partly wide-opened.  It follows the Colorado River and it was a great chance to see some wildlife. There was plenty more hiking we could do.  But I needed to get some much needed work, well all of my work done as I am not sure what type of signal I will have for the next few weeks,  and Mike was working on more upgrades, we got laundry done.  

Of course even with having to work some we played alot.  We went to Mexico.  This too is a border town and on the other side of the border is Mexico.  Because of Covid when returning to the US we  must be over the border back in the US by 2 p.m.  Well we heard mixed things, like we needed to be in line by 2 or we had to be over.  Not sure we weren’t going to take chances.  We gave our neighbor the code to our door for the just in case we weren’t able to make it back so she could take care of our pup.  It wasn’t needed.  Next year when we go I plan on getting dental work and eyeglasses.  Where we crossed was Los Algodones.  We choose to walk over, which is very common.  Getting into Mexico they barely looked if we had any documentation.  Everyone was masked up, so made it feel somewhat safer.  It is like on a cruise where everyone trys to sell their wares.  Just say no thank you and they leave you alone.  However, not only are their wares the usual hats, ponchos etc., it is also dental and optical services.  A comparsion someone we spoke to had gotten a dental quote in Houston for $7,500.00 and had it all done in Mexico for $250.00.  Another comparson is my eyeglasses. I just paid nearly $500.00 for my glasses, frames included, there I was quoted $140.00 including frames, and eye exam.  So next year we will be back to Los Algondes for both of those services and of course a delicious Margarita and some lunch, both of which we had at 10:45 a.m. yup, 10:45 a.m. We figured it was noon somewhere.  After our delicious, intoxicating lunch we headed back to the border crossing.  We also heard that it could take hours to get across.  There the US Custom’s Agents actually did look at our passports, made us take off glasses, masks and any hats we may have had on.  But it was smooth.  When asked by the agent what I was bringing back I said alot of stuff I don’t need nor have room for, we did come back with a poncho, a jacket, a spoon rest, a wooden turtle, a bracelet and a dress oh and of course a bag.  We had a great time and we made it back in the US within 30 minutes.  

Another fun thing we did in Yuma was the Yuma Territorial Prison which is the historic prison in Yuma.  It was opened in 1876 and shut down in 1909.  It is named as one of the most haunted places in the US.  Over the course of 33 years it had 3,069 prisoners, 29 of which were woman. The crimes ranged from murder to polygamy with a little adultry in there as well.  This is the 3rd historic park in the Arizona.  There is a graveyard where there are 104 prisoners buried here.  After the prision closed down it became the high school while the new high school was being built.  There were movies made there, 3:10 to Yuma to mention just one of them.  It was said that the area was being stripped of anything valuable there, the citizens of the City of Yuma put a stop to it and made a historic site. There is a museum and a gift shop.  After touring the old prision of course it was time to go the Prison Hill Brewing Co. for lunch.  The beer was delicious and the lunch was equally as tasty.  We traded stickers.  When our server put it on the wall, one of the other server’s said wow that has to be the farthest away from us.  

We saved some stuff to do for the next time in Yuma and after a week of civilization it was time to get on some free land, so we left and headed north.  

Come back next week as our adventures continue up to Quartszite.  

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Until next week,

Hope and Mike

Extra, Extra read all about it: A lot has happended since Loma Paloma there was Carlesbad, Guadalupe Mountians, Tuson and Saguaro National Park

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I left off with us leaving Loma Paloma in Presidio to Texas to go to Carlesbad Caverns National Park. The day we were departing it said that we would be having a lot of wind. Wind we did, however, it was a tail wind so not as scary as it could have been. When we were leaving Loma Paloma we realized our water pump in the rig died, so we had to find a place where we could get one as we were boondocking and wouldn’t have hook-ups for the unforeseeable future and we needed water. So while we had service off an on and on our way towards El Paso Mike made a ton of phone calls. There was a Camping World outside of El Paso, so our plans were gonna have to change and we thought maybe we would hit Carlesbad another time. However, as luck would have it there was an RV dealer with a store front in Carlsbad. Mike got a hold of them and indeed they had our water pump, so plans were back on to hit Carlsbad. We got to Chosa and dropped the rig at what became our home for the next few nights and headed to Carlsbad to get the water pump. It was a nice store and had everything you could need or want. We headed back to the camper, Mike fixed the water pump and we had a decent nights sleep. It was warmer then it had been and we had our windows open and there was a rig that ran his generator all night long. Anyway, we got up early and headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We got to use our National Park Pass for the first time, which was a great gift given to us by our besties, Nancy, Mark and Nya. We chose to walk down into the cave and everyone takes the elevator up. Felt totally safe, everyone was masked up. It was truly beautiful. After we picked up Eris and did the scenic drive through the park. That too was well worth the time. We got back to the rig and relaxed the rest of the evening. Carlesbad Caverns is an amazing sight to see. Above ground is the Chihuahuan Desert of the Guadelupe Mountains. Pre-covid they had ranger led tours, now you are on your own. After walking down the 733 feet below the surface is a rest area with a lunchroom, that of course was closed because of Covid. We did the walk down and then went into the balance of the cave. We highly recommend the walk down as it was just as beautiful as the rest of the caverns. After about 2 hours we got in line to take the elevator back up to the surface. Because of Covid it is only one party at a time, which I imagine pre-covid the elevators would have held at least a dozen or so people. The visitors center and exhibits were open. After returning home the peace and quiet of the campground was great, until the evening when all the other folks were returning to the campground or coming in. This would be the time for me to say how grateful we are to have solar on our rig. We still have not even started our generator yet. Honestly, I am not sure what people need to run at night that their house batteries wouldn’t be ok, but a schoolie pulled in on the one side and another travel trailer on the other. The schoolies’ fumes were coming right into our rig, even with closing the windows. They were outside, I asked if they could turn it off as the fumes were killing us and they apologized and did. The other folks kept theirs on for a while but the other guy who ran it all night the first night, ran it again the second. Solar and Battleborns…way to go. The following morning we got up and went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park on our way out of the area and heading to El Paso for some needed stores, Cabelas and grocery story. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is amazing and the hiking mecca. Of course we were just passing through and decided to see if there were any hikes that we could do with the dog. Only two were to be had, one to the campground and one on a nature trail. We did both. Guadalupe Mountain National Park as the park states: “preserves the rugged spirt and remote wilderness of the American West. The views were amazing and I believe that was the first and second (first-heading to Carlesbad and second leaving Carlesbad) mountain passes I did towing the rig. Heck maybe ever. They had pull offs and honestly the best place to get a picture of El Capitan is from the rest area. The visitor center was open as were the displays. After doing our short hikes we headed on the road to El Paso. Cabela’s was waiting for us. It was a semi-quick stop. Then we hit the road again and made it as far as Deming, New Mexico, where we stayed a Harvest Host for the evening. D.H. Lescombes Winery, where we had some delicious wines (I had a beer) and a charcuterie tray and purchased a bottle of wine for the road. After a serene and quiet night we got up and headed to Tuscon, where we planned on staying a couple of nights at another unique Harvest Host. El Pais Motel and Campground is a Mid Centruy themed Motel and Campground featuring vintage trailers, airstreams with a pool, (it was cold so we did not use) a clubhouse with all kinds of vintage items in it and chickens. We paid to stay here as we wanted full hookups. While visiting Tuscon (which again had everything we needed and then some, including an REI) we went to check out Catalina State Park. Very beautiful. We arrived later in the day, so we were only able to get in one short hike. The big thing we did was go to Saguaro National Park which is on the outskirts of Tuscon and is a small part of the Sonaran Desert The park has two distinct parts that are bascially split by Tuscon. We went to both sides in one day. A lot of driving but so worth it. As we couldn’t really go on any of the trails (no dogs) we did the scenic drives on both sides. My suggestion is, if a scenic drive is offered take it. They have pull offs and you never know what you are going to see. Both vistor’s centers were open and we were able to get our passport stamped. I think the Saguaro is my favorite cactus. After spending a few days in Tuscon it was time for us to move on…catch us next week as we talk about Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Yuma, Arizon.

Walkway down to the cave
Chosa
El Capitan
At El Pais

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Until next week have a great week…

Hope

Loma Paloma RV Park in Presidio, Texas and Big Bend Ranch State Park

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After we spent a glorious 5 days boondocking in Amistad National Recreation Area we were due for some clean laundry and some a/c, even though now as I sit here writing this in Tucson, Arizona I have a heater down by my feet. But that was then and this is now.  We headed down US 90 from Amistad a little sad to be leaving that beautiful area, but the drive on 90 did not disappoint with the views either. 

 We made it down to Presidio after a long drive to a wonderful welcoming campground called Loma Paloma. For $22.00 a night it comes with free wifi, and full hookups.  Just an FYI they only take cash.  Their address is 17138 FM170 Presidio, Texas, their phone number is 432/229-2992. We were invited to happy hour which started shortly after us checking in. The laundry room has  3 machines of each washer and dryer and it is $1.50 each. Also, this is paid in cash in a honor system. This was a perfect place to get into Big Bend Ranch State Park and for the more ambitious you can drive through it and get to the west side of Big Bend National Park. We were told to take the beautiful ride through the State park and don’t underestimate it. Beautiful sunsets were a daily occurance.  

Presidio itself is a quant border town.  Doesn’t really have much of anything but it is cute nonetheless.  

We were at the Visitor’s Center of the State Park at 8:30 in the morning. Fort Leaton State Historic Site/Visitor Center, where we paid our entry money to get in the park and we went through the Fort and our daily pass gave us access to all the hikes we wanted to do. The reconstructed  Fort served as a trading post in the old Chihuahua Trail from 1848 to 1884.  It was interesting.   

We have a dog, so that limited us to the hikes we could do, but honestly the four we did do was enough.  We did not feel like we missed anything.  We did the short nature hike at the visitor’s center and then got in the car to drive the scenic road through the park and stop and see what we wanted to see.  We did a slot canyon hike and a hoodoo hike, which was a first for all of us. The Hoodos Trail is a 1.1 mile loop trail.  Has some elevation but not too terrible.  We got down the Rio Grande where the moutains on the other side were in Mexico.  Eris got to drink water out of the Rio Grande.  The Closed Canyon Trail (slot canyon) is about 1.4 miles long (round-trip).  It is a narrow slot canyon that divides Colorado Mesa in two. The Colorado Mesa was created about 28 million years ago.  The canyon leads to the Rio Grande but is unpassable without climbing gear. I had a hard enough time trying to climb over the boulders so when a sign said end of trail, I was good, I did not need to see what was beyond the sign.  If here be sure to do the Hoodoos trail first as it is exposed and the Closed Canyon is cool due to the canyon walls.  

The views on the scenic road were truly amazing.  This road is one of the scenic drives in the US and should not be missed if in the area.  Of course I was extremely grateful that it was just us and our truck, I would not want to have been towing the camper.   We did the short nature trail on the other side at the other Visitor’s Center and decided to head back through because the thought of driving the scenic drive at night was not overly thrilling.  We saw a moutain goat and some deer.  By the time we returned home it was after 7:00 p.m.  

So if you are in the area and can’t get into Big Bend National Park don’t underestimate Big Bend Ranch State Park it is so very much worth it and should not be overlooked.  

If you enjoyed this please like it and consider following us as we travel on to our next destination, Carlesbad, New Mexico.  

Hope, Mike and Eris, the lowrider camping hound

 

Our Adventure’s in Amistad National Recreation Area 

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Amistad National Recreation Area has changed my opinion of Texas. It is beautiful in an undescripable way.  The rocky coast, the miles of terraces that were once the bottom of the water, the blue/tourquise water that was at the base of the rocky terraces, were a beauty that must be seen to describe it. 

Our campsite that we chose was Governors Landing, on a reservor of the Rio Grande.  While it is right off US 90 is still gets quiet at night. The view cannot be beat. It was the more expensive campsite at $10.00 per night. The other sites ranged from $6.00-$8.00 a night. It was so worth money.  Originally we were going to stay 2 nights and we quickly added an additional 3 on, only because we want to try to beat the heat further outwest, otherwise we would have stayed longer.  You are able to stay there for up to 14 days in each of the camping areas.  There is a total of 5 camping areas. All the areas  have a covered table, a grill and fire pit and trash cans available.  Ours not only had that but access to potable water and was close to Diablo East which has a marina and some great little hikes but also most importantly a free dump.  Honestly, if these make it to your bucket list places you can’t really go wrong with any of the campgrounds.  

Amistad means friendship in Spanish.  Amistad lies between the United States and Mexico border.  The park offers hiking, water sports, fishing, birding , canoeing, kyacking and bow hunting in season.  The reservior was created by the Amistad Dam  in 1969 for flood ontrol, water storage and power generation as well as recreational use.  There are two bronze eagles symoblizing the cooperation between the US and Mexico in building and managing the dam. We did not make it over to see the eagles but maybe next time.  Also, when not Covid times they give dam tours but well as we all know things are a little different right now.  So hopefully we will be able to do it next time.  

There are miles of hikes, all beautiful.  Diablo East has three short easy trails and the Sunrise Trail and Figueroa Trail.  We did all the ones at the main area but did not do the Sunrise nor the Figueroa trials.  We need to safe something for the next time.  Plus we only have a 3 mile dog.  But what we did do was go to Seminole Canyon State Park.  What a really great place.  They have miles and miles of hikes but again we have a  3 mile dog so pushing it with our about 4.5 miles was more than enough for her.  We highly recommend that you do this park if in the area.  All the trails we were on in the area are dog friendly. 

Connectivity (Verizon) was amazing while in all of the Amistad area, however when we went to Seminole Canyon it did not exist and we even received a text (when our service came back) welcoming us to Mexico.  

We met some super nice people, some heading east and some heading west.  Hoping our paths will cross again sometime.  

We had to move on, so next weeks blog will find us at Persidio, Texas.  

Until then, remember to like this blog, and considering following as we continue to head to the west.  

Take care and safe travels,

Hope, Mike and Eris (the lowrider camping hound)

Month  1-Louisiana-Texas and the Must To Dos  in San Antonio

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As I sit here and write this we have officially been on the road for one month today.  Did it start out as planned?  The short answer is a big fat NO!! Today was the first day since we left St. Pete that we had any sun. Besides the lack of sun and basically crap weather, we got sick, got stuck in Louisiana because of the worse weather in Texas. We were grateful for Bayou Segments State Park for their hospitality while we were forced to stay.    However, we were finally able to leave our Louisiana home of 2.5 weeks and venture west. After a long, uncomfortable ride we made it to our home for the night in Beaumont, Texas.  I will never complain the roads in Florida again. I don’t think it would hurt them to  use a little concrete or asphalt every now and then. I digress, we stayed our first Harvest Host, Pour Brother’s Brewery. The beer as well as the hospitality was great and we spent the night in a level lot. Beaumont is a very cute little town and is home of the largest fire hydrant the is spotted like a Dalmatian.   We got up early and headed to San Antonio where we had reservations at and RV park.   We spent 4 days there.   

Honestly the weather was not great but for the most part it rained very little so we made due.  The first two nights we needed AC and the last night we needed heat.  The campground was interesting With its miles of trails and even had some elevation. The neighbors were horses, cows and chickens. On Sunday we met Deb and Larry (#gettin_there) and we went to Government Canyon State Park where we did a nearly 7 mile hike and saw dinosaur prints.  We highly recommend doing that if you are in the area. Then on Monday the weather was cold and blustery but we went to do the Missions anyways.  We went to all 4 that are run by the park service and went to Alamo. There was no charge to go in the Alamo like we heard there was, because We didn’t do the guided tour. We did not find the Alamo as impressive as all the others. After the Alamo we walked down to River Walk. We decided to do the river boat tour.  There was one other couple on the boat plus our guide.  It was so worth the $ 13.50 each we spent on it. 

 So the musts of to dos while visiting San Antonio are the Missions, take the cruise on the river boat and go to the Government Canyon Stare Park and check out the dino prints.  

Come back next week where I tell you all about Amistad National Recreation Area. Until next week give me a like and follow me. 

Till then,

Hope

Week Two of our Fulltime Adventures-NOLA, the Mardi Gras that Wasn’t, Record Cold Weather, and a Cold

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Week  two of our fulltime living has found us heading to NOLA for what was supposed to be our trip to see Mardi Gras but what we found is little festivities, record cold weather and one of us getting a cold. Where I left off last week was that we were heading to NOLA for Mardi Gras, where we knew that it would be different but would make the best of it anyways.  So off we headed from Mississippi in the rain and ended up at our campground just has the rain has stopped for a brief moment.  We are staying at Bayou Segnette State Park.  This is a beautiful park, with level, asphalt sites, some (like our first one) have a deck and the picnic tables are all on concrete slabs.  If the weather would have cooperated with us we might have taken our bikes off the back and ridden them, but that has yet to happen.  Being that the roads are asphalt we are able to walk around and not get muddy so that is a huge plus.  We are after all right on the bayou so trails off the asphalt will have to be eiher boardwalk or plan on getting muddy and soaked.  We settled in for our week here and to get some needed chores done.  The first priority was that Mike had an appointment to get the truck’s ac fixed, which he was there for a couple hours only to have to bring it back on Monday for an appointment when he could get to it as it was going to take 5 hours to fix.  Meanwhile, I started doing our weeks plus worth of laundry.  Two laundry rooms, each with two washers and two dryers in it.  

One nice warm, semi-dry day we went to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.  Jean Lafitte was a pirate that interrupted his pirating career to fight for the United States in defense of New Orleans in the War of 1812. They have hiking trails  but as we are seeing in the southern states most of the trails were either damaged by the summer’s hurricanes or were under water due to the current non-stop rain, however, there was one trail that we could do.  The ranger told us no dogs allowed.  We left Eris in the truck and headed on this short boardwalk trail, that was basically just decking over the swamp, like maybe a foot above the swamp.  That is where we encountered a fairly decent sized alligator.  We were happy that Eris remained in the truck. After getting my NP passport stamped we went to the little community of Jean Lafitte.   In this little town they had a really nice hiking trail (all boardwalk) and a cute museum.  There was a movie in the museum that talked about the people of the area.  It was very reasonable and at the time of this writing it was $6.00, and worth every penny.  

The next day we dropped Eris off at doggie daycare so we could go to the French Quarter.  The weather turned cold and was still gray out.  We got a ferry card which is good for 5 days and was $18.00 each.  We took off from Algiers Point and got dropped off at Canal Street.  Walking distance to everything we wanted to go to.  The $36.00 we paid for the passes would have been one day’s parking price in the Quarter so worth the money and parking at Algiers Point is free and unlimited time.  It was definately a different vibe than years in the past where we went (we went after Mardi Gras too), buildings weren’t nearly as decorated and the crowds were thin.  While there we went to the Louisiana State Museum, another reasonably priced thing to do, at the time of this writing was $7.00.  The downstairs display was dedicated to Katrina. It was a  great depiction of what happened during Katrina and to see the destruction and the loss and all of the inequities that came out of it was heartbreaking.  (FYI Katrina came in as a catagory 2, then increased to a 3 and then a 5, honestly if we were here we wouldn’t have evacuated either for a 2).  After seeing that we went upstairs for some fun-that display was all about Mardi Gras, so it was a nice way to end our tour at the Louisiana State Museum.  

The following day we took Eris to the Doggie Daycare again.  We asked them to cut her nails while they had her and of course they said no problem.  Not only did they cut them but they were bored so they painted them purple to get her her ready for Mardi Gras.  We highly recommend Shampooch. Reasonable prices and they love their guests we could tell.  Since we took her there we headed back over on the ferry, it was a dry day, which came far and few between, still ugly looking but at least it was dry, cold but dry.  We headed to Mardi Gras World.  Upon arriving at Mardi Gras World we were greeted with King Cake.  We learned more of how the floats were made and more history. We had no idea that a good portion of the accessories on the floats, ie the Scooby Doo’s etc. are made out of styrofoam.  It was worth the $20.00 we spent on it.  (If you go look for groupons).  After our great tour we headed back to the French Quarter for lunch and a stop at Cafe Du Monde for some beignets.  Again I got to say it was weird to see no bars open and less decorations and less people for what has become Mardi Gras 2021.  

Sunday our first nomadic Valentine’s Day was spent driving over the longest continuguas bridge over water in the WORLD-Lake Pontchatrain Causeway.  It is nearly 24 miles long over water.  Honestly, it was boring.  Not much to look at, especially since it was cloudy and gray.  However, we did have some fun on the other side, we went to 2 state parks, Fairview-Riverside  State Park and Fontainbleau State Parks.  Both are beautiful.  What I find weird is when hiking, you are clearly in swamp country yet the trees in the woods are all hardwood.  

On Monday, Mike left on this frigid morning to get the ac in the truck fixed.  Hard to believe that it is so cold and we were ever going to need the ac again.  The day started off cold and got colder.  While he was sitting in the frigid garage for 5 plus hours waiting on the repairs to be made it was sleeting outside.  I was not there to nag him so of course he did not put a hat on his head and now he has a cold.  (Side note-we did go and get Covid testing done just to be sure it is just a cold).  Honestly we were really ready to leave here after 4 days and if we didn’t have the appointment to get the truck fixed we would have left, but am grateful we did not as the big storm was coming and really bad where we are heading.  We attempted to get some insulation for our underbelly for the impending freezing temps and none was to be had.  So we just put on our electric heaters and opened our kitchen cabinets and hoped for the best.  We did fill our water tanks.  While it was freezing out we were toasty inside as the weather deterioated around us.  Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) there was nothing happened.  Staying off the streets is what was best for everyone.  It was super cold, so if there was a year that the parades didn’t happen it was good that it was this year.  

Due to the continuing impending doom (the bad upcoming weather) we have changed our plans and asked to stay until Friday, we had to move sites but they are very accommodating, we had to empty our tanks anyway so it was good.  As I write this we have another bout of crap coming our way but by Friday it should warm up to the upper 40’s and hopefully we will be free to move about the country and should be in the 70’s by next week.  If we have to be stuck someplace at least this is a nice campground to be stuck in and we still have electric and water.  

All and all we are trying to make the most of it and are happy to be just together and enjoying this crazy adventure together.

So until next week, take care, stay warm and stay safe…..and we will hopefully come to you from Texas.

Hope and Mike

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7 DAYS Till Freedom

As I write this there is only 7 days to our take off date. When this posts the countdown will say 5 days. We will be ready. We have reservations at our first campground on February 4. Eris the lowrider camping hound and I have been adjusting well to my retirement. Mike is finishing up one last job and then we will be moving his shop up to our part-time homestead. We will have to make a few trips up and back to get the job done. But we are thinking the last possible night in St. Pete will be Monday. Maybe earlier but we do have a few trips to the cabin to make for his shop.

We will be down to one vehicle as I am sitting here watching my Kia get it’s last oil change from me at least and she will be going to a new home on Thursday.

Another surreal feeling is that this Wednesday will be our last “run” night from 3 Daughters at least until November. Prior to Covid we used to run with Fit to Run the last Wednesday of the month. We would meet with our friends. After the world stopped spinning that was one of the big things we missed. So our friends, who we were quarantining with, would meet us at 3D and we would walk and do nearly 3 miles every Wednesday.

Another thing we will miss is our family nights held each week at my uncles. Of course these all started after it was safe to get together in small groups. Our last one will be on this Thursday until at least the end of November.

This month started with a mini trip to Atlanta to see Shan and Christian and went up with Jes and Chris and grand pups. While up there we celebrated Jes’ 30th birthday and went sightseeing of course. Went to Helen, Anna Ruby Falls, Nora Mill Granary, Fernbank Museum and Atlanta Botanical Gardens. While the weather was cold, it was beautiful out. The gardens were beautiful and I can only imagine how beautiful it is in March/April when everything is in bloom.

Needless to say we are getting excited. No more alarm clocks and new adventures coming our way.

Enjoy the pics below…

Until next time,

Hope

HAPPY NEW YEAR- WELCOME TO 2021

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As I reflect on the year that none of us will forget, 2020, all in all it was mostly good for us.  Let me get the bad overwith, in March I lost my job, which I got another job quick enough, then in March we all know what plagued the world.  While speaking to someone on the other side of the country we were all doing the same thing, praying nobody we knew or that we wouldn’t get Covid.  All the while we were moving forward with our plans for our 2/1/2021 departure date.  In January I wrote in my dayplanner that on December 28, whereever I am working, to put my notice in (I actually wrote it that way).  The rest of the bad is that my father in law, a sweet, sweet man, became sicker and was in a hospital bed (at home-thank you Hospice) since July and passed away at age 98.5. He is missed but we all know he is in a better place.  My uncles got Covid but thankfully made a speedy recovery.  That’s all I got for the bad, while I miss hugs of my family and while masking up  is a pain, I do it for the better good.  

Christmas we spent our last year as homeowners in our backyard with family. It was great. Didn’t have as many people as we normally have but it was great just the same. Honestly it was the most relaxing year I ever had. We did a hobo dinner cooking over an open fire. We kept the fire going for warmth. It was a chilly year. Shan and Christian came down so the only ones we were missing was my son and daughter-in-law.

We picked 2/1/2021 as our shove off date so we could go to Mardi Gras, that of course as I write this is cancelled.  That’s ok we will plan on it for next year.  This year while we have our reservations we will just have fun in New Orleans anyway. We plan on heading west, stopping and seeing our besties,  who spend the month of July in Washington and a stop in Yellowstone and finishing in Savannah to do a half marathon in November, (assuming it will happen), spend the holidays with family and then back out.  

I started 2020 with a project of 52 Weekend’s to remember-well that took a hault because of Covid, which gave us more time to work on the cabin, camper or the house. We continued with our plans, spending most of the time working on the cabin, camper, or the house. To make it easier to work on the house we moved into the camper, started to box up, get rid of and get ready for a garage sale. I think it was somewhere in August that our kids came over to help us with cleaning up the Irma tree (huge tree that was toppled over during Irma) as we were preparing to put our house on the market, when they showed interest in purchasing the house. Which we finally closed on December 28, 2020, the same day I quit my job.  I have 3 days (including today) and I will be retired.  We will eventually have to go back to work, which will look different then what we are doing now, we are planning on doing some workkamping and have already applied already to Yellowstone 2022.  

As I sit here on my last Wednesday of my career I am looking forward to a healthy, happy and adventuresome  2021 and that I wish the same for everyone.  

The first picture is my wonderful father-in-law, who is missed but is in a better place.

The balance is Christmas.

Next week I will be back on to location and places to see blogs.

Until next time,

Hope

Let me tell you about my home town/Part or should I say Park 2-John Chestnut Sr.

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This is another great Pinellas County Park that should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is a lot of wildlife to be seen. Deer, alligators, racoons and many birds call this beautiful park home. This 255 acre park is situated on Lake Tarpon, it has a boat ramp and canoe launch and landlocked canoe trails. It has miles of nature rails, including many boardwalks. This park was built with cooperation of the US Army Corp of Engineers and it is located near Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. There is plenty to do in this park. Between the softball fields, the 13 picnic shelters, dog park, horseshoe pits, boatramp, canoe launches with a canoe trail and and two playgrounds, nature trails and of course the chance to see deer, alligators and birds, and many more wildlife and foliage you will not be bored.

The location of your next adventure is 2200 East Lake Rd., Palm Harbor, Florida, bring a picnic lunch and plan on spending the day being surrounded by beauty and if you are lucky you may spot a deer. So be sure that if you are in the Tampa Bay area to add this location to your bucket list.

Until next week,

One of the beauties

Hope

Let’s Me Tell You About My Home Town/County Parks…Part 1-Florida Botanical Gardens

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Pinellas County is the location of my home town, St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve been calling St. Pete my home town for 44 years now. St. Pete was put in the top 10 of large cities ( even though I would consider it medium). Pinellas County consists of many towns/cities and 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, 4 preserves, 2 botanical and historic parks, and 15 county parks.

Shortly we will be on the road and have really cool locations and experiences to talk about, but while I’m still here I should talk about the beauty of what exists in the place I currently call home. While I can’t wait to leave I realize that we have some of the bests all within miles of our home. We have some of the best breweries, the best bicycle friendly city, a great rail trail, the best city and county parks and the best beaches, of course I’m a little biased. However, hopefully this will spark you to check out the places I talk about or maybe add them to your bucket list.

I’m gonna start with Florida Botanical Gardens. This place is so beautiful and I can’t believe I haven’t been there before. I may have been there before but this was the first time going with friends to just take photos.

Florida Botanical Gardens is 182 acre garden. The address is 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The hours are M-F 7-5. They have annual events of course this is 2020 so some may be cancelled. There is a gift shop and visitor’s center, however they are closed on the weekends. Dogs are welcome. While we were there there was quite a few.

Where we entered the garden we started out on the boardwalk and the first thing we said was how we couldn’t believe that we were still in the city. We continued on to a bridge going over the water with little overlooks. There are sculptures that are pretty cool.

One of the many boardwalks
One of the sculptures
The priceless moment when you get to hang with your besties:)

The weather on the day we were there was one of those perfect days, the ones that sells real estate in Florida. There was a yoga class happening in one of the gardens. What a zen place for that. There are benches all over to relax and take in the views and to ponder life. While we don’t have geysers there were a few fountains in the most beautiful setting.

Nancy chilling in one of the beautiful areas.

There are some fun areas as well. Trees decorated with faces.

Fun trees

Gardens wouldn’t be gardens without flowers. So enjoy seeing what I saw through my lens.

I hope you enjoy my view of the gardens and add the Florida Botanical Gardens to your bucket list. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it is totally free.

One more thing if you like the article it would be appreciated to like it and subscribe to my email list and you will be notified of my blogs as they come out.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week where I will show another local park.

Until next week,

Hope

The Freeing Feeling and Not Having an Achy Breaky Back

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Let me tell you it is so freeing to get rid of stuff. While downsizing is difficult we are getting closer. That’s exactly what we did when we had our garage sale we downsized and it was so freeing. While it was a lot of work and I personally don’t even like garage sales we had a successful one and then donated the leftover stuff to Goodwill.

Garage sale- a success

Not too much else happened except while we (Joyce, Vince and I) were selling our belongings in the front, Mike, Jes, Chris, Nick, Mark and and Nya were in the backyard breaking up the floor of the shed and cutting some more overgrown brush. I sold the couch so now the living room is empty. We only have a few larger items left to sell and if we don’t we will take to the property. Our poor pup is confused and nervous about what is going on. We haven’t been staying in the house since the beginning of August but she would stay in there while we were at work. Now poor thing has to sleep in our old bed. Now the room is completely empty except for the tv which will go to the property maybe this weekend.

Moving into the camper fulltime brings me to my next point- my achy breaky back. The mattress that came with our camper mmm how should I put this… was pure crap. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back. So we ordered and received a mattress from Mattress Insider. It is so nice to be able to sleep through the night and to wake up and not be in any pain. One of the best upgrades. Thank you Mattress Insider.

Beautiful new mattress
Old garbage mattress in the living room, on it’s way out the door.

Thank you everyone who helped with the garage sale and the backyard and thank you Mattress Insider for a good night’s sleep.

Check out next weeks where I will be talking about some of the Pinellas County Parks.

Until then take care,

Hope

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FINALLY SOMETHING FUN FOR THE WEEKEND TO REMEMBER PROJECT-WEEKEND 36-QUICK TRIP TO ATLANTA

Quick trip to Atlanta

We had a camping trip planned for Labor Day weekend. However, we are so very close to getting the shop completed we did the adult thing and cancelled it. Weekend’s are dwindling down and we are running out of time.

While I was sad to doing the adulting thing we made plans to make a trip to Atlanta to surprise our youngest, who had just celebrated her 26 birthday.

Atlanta is only 4 hours from the cabin so we figured we would just deliver her and Christian’s (her boyfriend, whose birthday is a couple days before Shannon’s) birthday presents.

We left the cabin at 7:30 and got up to Atlanta by 12:15. (of course we stopped few times). The first thing we noticed when getting out of the car it wasn’t disgustingly hot and that Georgia isn’t taking Covid as joke as opposed to feeling in North Florida, where they apparently must think it’s a “hoax”. Reader boards on the highway read to keep your distance, keep groups small on the holiday weekend. Restaurant’s won’t serve you unless you are wearing a mask and most don’t have dine in, outside service. We also went to REI who are keeping the crowds down to 25% and are counting how many people are inside. It was impressive and it is apparently working.

When we got to Shan’s house we had to sneak in behind another car. We were coming up with ideas on how to surprise her. We were standing outside the truck and as I walked around to the other side of the truck, at that exact moment Shan decided to check her mail, when she saw us she had a confused look on her face. Then she was happy to realize it was really us. We took her to lunch where we saw Christian and then to REI.

We had a great quick trip and seeing them was the highlight of the weekend. We got back to the cabin at around 9. It was a perfect day and perfect way to spend weekend number 36.

The rest of the weekend consisted on working on the shop. We have one more weekend scheduled for the end of September to finish the shop. Meanwhile, next weekend we are finishing the yard. Then we will be working on remodeling the inside of the house. Garage sale coming up soon… everything must go.

See you next week!!! Maybe there will be some fun to be had…

Hope

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WEEKEND’S TO REMEMBER #25-SOME MORE PACKING/ORGANIZING AND FATHER’S DAY FUN

This will more than likely be short and sweet as not much is happening.

Saturday we did some camper organization and some weight distribution and some more boxing stuff up.

Covid cases are up and we aren’t really interested in hanging out, or should I say in. For Father’s Day, Mike, my best friend and the best Dad to our children, wanted to go to the beach, so the beach we went, the beach is not my fav place, hard to believe a Floridian who doesn’t like the beach except for a nice sunrise or sunset, but it was Father’s Day so I couldn’t say no. We met Nancy, Mark and Nya there as well. The beach of choice was Ft. Desoto. We got out there early enough but there was still a line to get in. Nancy said it was an hour for them to get in and they were only 15 minutes behind us. I am guessing head count is what the jam is all about. We went to the side of the beach that is usually less crowded and as expected it was, after all we are trying to do our part. After we started feeling a little crispy we left and it was time for lunch. We brought lunch with us, so Mike and I went to the shaded picnic area found a table and ate lunch. We attempted to walk the little nature trail but this is mid June in Florida the bugs chased us off. I got some great pics and played around with some different lenses.

After we were done at the beach we headed home, got cleaned up and headed to Mom and Dad’s for dinner. We brought Sonny’s with us and had a nice evening. We were able to Zoom with Annette which thrilled the parental’s.

So all in all it was a nice sort of productive and fun weekend.

Until next time,

Hope

My bestie
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Weekend to Remember (24) Cabin and the start of moving on up and out….

We loaded up the box trailer with the first load of stuff we are keeping and headed to the cabin. Our goal was to get the bathroom completed, storage shelves in place and then possibly build some of the shop and continue on working on clearing some of Nick’s property. Mike continued on the bathroom while Nick and I worked on the property. By the time we were done working on the property (because we were hot, tired and sore but mostly hot) Mike was done with the bathroom so they unloaded the trailer and while they continued working on some outside stuff I started going through the boxes I packed months ago. Mostly pictures that are stored on the shelves and albums, which are stored in the main cabin and a lot of stamping supplies. So much stuff, that I am not sure if I will ever use the stamping stuff to justify keeping it. Maybe after a year if I don’t use it I will get rid of it.

Downsizing is somewhat problematic, after all I have lived in my house nearly 33 years and have accumulated that much crap as well. And really do we need, totally guessing here, 50+ pint glasses that we have collected from the different breweries? I think not, so while we don’t want to get rid of them all, we also have regular glasses at the cabin. So the plan is to bring up the pint glasses, after all they remind us of fun places, and change them out with the boring regular glasses. But we are only replacing and not taking them all up, the rest maybe we will give away as parting gifts. I also have this owl cookie jar, it is an antique for sure, while I want to keep the cookie jar, I am 100% sure I don’t need to keep the contents of it. We have begun calling it the DNA cookie jar. The owl sits on this shelf above the refrigerator and when the kids were little and would lose their teeth we (or should I say the tooth fairy) would put the teeth in there. Also what could be found in there is undeveloped film. I have no idea from what era they are from but they are gone. So needless to say downsizing is difficult. This is just one example. But I am taking the approach does this particular item bring me joy, if the answer is no, it’s just taking up space.

Another huge, super huge, downsizing issue for me is, besides making cards (stamping, etc.), my biggest hobby is photography. I love, love, love taking photos, always have (true story one week in Yellowstone =~1459 pictures-ones I had to have all of them developed because there wasn’t digital), that hasn’t changed, except for the fact I can now choose what I want to print, which is somewhat a difficult situation for me. Not to mention, printing and sharing is what I like to do. Not sure what I am going to do with all the photos but yet I still print. I am now giving some away as gifts (sorry for all my family who is running out of wall space but…) and will be reopening my Etsy store to hopefully sell some as well and figured this is something I can do while on the road. Be on the look out for my Etsy Store announcement.

This is just my issues with stuff, I am getting rid of a ton and besides the pictures and homemade things (like quilts and needlecraft, paintings and things) I don’t really have much of an attachment to anything else. Mike on the other hand doesn’t have the same attachment issues (except with his tools of course and we are building him a shop for them). But yet he still has a lot of stuff. So do we plan on a garage sale (uggggg) or Facebook Market Place or just dump the stuff? This is the questions we continue asking ourselves.

Now while we are working on the cabin and getting it ready we need to work on our current home to get it ready to sell. We have inside work and outside work. While we just repainted the outside last year we don’t need to do that however, the inside needs work. Mike says he can knock it out in a short time and we will plan on moving into the camper by the middle of September so that we can get it done. I have started doing somethings so far, like starting taking the wallpaper off the wall, emptied out one bedroom and organized the bike room.

Anyway, while up at the cabin this past weekend we accomplished a lot and are moving right along, including Mike and Nick doing the framing of the floor for the shop. Plus we even took sometime and headed down and walked the US 90 Bridge, took a ride on a country road, saw some great boondocking spots, not sure if I would bring my camper down there but if I had a van or wanted to tent camp I would be so on it.

It seems like we always start building in the summer, like always. I might mention that summers are not the funnest time to be in Florida. Since the property is in the middle of north Florida (Florga as we like to call it) there are no sea breezes and we found that if it is hot in St. Pete it is hotter at the property. So needless to say it was hot and omg buggy up there. We will have to go up often like at least every other weekend so that we can accomplish what we want to get done by September and in the meantime continue to work on our house in St. Pete and any other modification to the camper that still may need to be done (not much now).

After this past weekend we feel accomplished.

Until next time,

Hope

Some boxes. It’s a beginning.
Our bathroom with storage and composting toilet.
Clearing the property
Highlight of the weekend.
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FINALLY SOMETHING DIFFERENT-WE WENT CAMPING FOR THE FIRST TIME NOT IN OUR BACKYARD SINCE MARCH…..

Can you hear the excitement in my voice? Yes we did it, we finally were able to venture out for the weekend and camp beyond our backyard. We had these reservations for about 6 months or so and weren’t sure if they were going to actually happen or be cancelled but THEY DID HAPPEN!!!! It was even the usual crowd of Nancy, Mark, Nya, Nick, Mike, Eris (the lowrider camping hound) and I, we all headed to Silver Springs State Park. I did a campground review about this park previously and I will say it is still a favorite of ours. It was so nice to have a slight bit of normalcy, even if it was a little different. Of course the big deal this weekend was the questionable weather as there was a tropical storm in the Gulf and we were on the rain side of it, but we didn’t let that stop us. So rain it did, but the wind wasn’t that bad in the middle of the state and we were able to keep the awning open a good portion of the weekend and it also kept the bugs away (mostly). While the little museum was closed (which we highly recommend) and the gift shop on the attraction side of the park, the glass bottom boat ride and the kayak/canoe rentals were open.

We were wondering how checking in would be to the campground. It was pretty much contactless. They stood back from the car and handed us our hang tag. They had ice and firewood (which was not needed-it’s June in Florida-not to mention the rain flooded out the firepits, sort of looked like mini swimming pools) on a donation, contactless operation.

We did walk around on the other side at the gardens and then we went back to the campsite, had lunch, hung out and worked our way back to the kayak/canoe rentals but when we got there apparently there was lightening happening an hour away so they couldn’t rent anymore out, so we decided to do the glass bottom boat tour. Which we were lucky enough to score the last tour due to the incoming weather. We were wondering how “safe” the boat ride was, it was very safe. We sat back from the boat captain and each party was separated by 6 feet. There was hand sanitizer available before and after entering the boat. The bathrooms were spotless. When we got back to the campsite the wind was picking up slightly so we started to put everything away as best we could and pulled the awning in and what was left out got hosed. We hung out and went to dinner. After dinner, Nancy, Mark and Nya headed home as everything was soaked and they knew they were not going to miss anything since it called for nonstop rain for the duration of the weekend.

This was the first time since a couple of upgrades we did to the camper that we towed our camper anywhere, we weren’t sure how our distribution was going to be. The Corona (all upgrades were the wall, with the TV and the fireplace and the addition of the bike rack with the bikes. We were a little concerned. While bringing the bikes was a waste of time and just gave us more stuff to clean when we got home the rack did well. I followed Mike back from his shop to the house and the bikes didn’t move at all. Nice and sturdy. I’m curious on how it will do on the Mississippi and Louisiana roads but we shall see. I am hopeful. The towing did great. But before we left for St. Pete, with all the rain, we forgot to fill our fresh tank so there was a little porpoising (very little) so we stopped at an Escapee’s park and filled up our water and the porpoising stopped.

As we were driving down the country roads heading back to St. Pete., I was happily realizing that soon we won’t have to make this trip, except to see family and friends, even with the crappy weather I was that thought that kept me smiling. We passed farms and you pick fields and was thinking of how nice it will be to be able to visit some of these places and not be in any hurry to get home to empty the camper, and get ready for work again on Monday. Soon that is what I kept and keep telling myself.

I must also say it was nice to be away from the the news even if it was short lived.

Well I am going to keep this one short and sweet, if you want to know more about Silver Springs State Park check it out here: https://whatrwewaiting4.com/2019/07/29/following-the-brown-signs-and-campground-review-silver-springs-state-park/

Until next time….

Hope

From the boat
A couple of turtles
Our bikes nice and secure (pic taken from my car)

LIFE WHILE ON THE NEVER ENDING HAMSTER WHEEL, WHAT IS THE CORONA VIRUS….AND THE CHANGES THAT ARE UPON US….

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I am not sure what week of my Weekend to Remember Series this is, as they are all blurring together and there is nothing new to talk about, which I am guessing is the new norm.  We are all on the perpetual hamster wheel of what we are calling life.   We are finally not under a stay at home order and things are starting to open up. This whole time  (besides not being able to hug the people I love-which I still miss) I thought I was missing being able to go to a restaurant, be waited on and drink a draft beer from a real glass and be able to leave the mess behind, however,  now that the restaurants are open, I am not in that much of a hurry, I am enjoying the space and used to just taking food home and eating it there.  It surprised me.  What I am grateful for, besides the obvious that all of my family and friends are healthy, is that I have a job and really never lost the job because of Covid.  I did get a new job during this time, which was weird in itself, to go to a job interview via Zoom and it all worked out.

Another thing I am grateful for with things opening up besides the ability to get a haircut is that our favorite brewery, 3 Daughters is now open for food and drink.  We were so missing  the ability to just go there and hang out.  A week before they officially opened with food and seats to sit on, we did our monthly 3 miles from 3D, (a monthly run) we got food from Chipotle, beer from 3D before they closed for the day (they were able to sell beer to go), went for a walk, came back and sat on the ground and ate our food in the empty parking lot. It was fun to do something that we used to take for granted.  I am super happy to report that they are now open, seats are spaced, and delicious food is being served and hard water, beer and ciders are being poured.  We couldn’t get there fast enough.  We did another 3 miles from 3D that first Wednesday they were reopened, while it was different it felt like going home.

State parks have begun opening, in this Phase 1 of the reopening of the country, for day use only at first and then on May 20, for camping.  We went for a great day hike on Mother’s Day, which was amazing to us, the smell of the fresh air, air not surrounded by concrete.  In “normal” years Florida has a short hiking season, where the temps are low or at least lower and the bugs are the least and the last few months were those months and we weren’t able to hike, but as soon as they opened up we were there.  We started off on beautiful morning, not too hot yet,  but as we returned to the car it was hot. We (my Mom, Mike, Jes, Chris, the four legged grands, Mark, Nancy, Nya and myself) did a nearly 5 mile hike, came back to a picnic lunch. The trails had people on it, all of us just trying to redirect our life on the hamster wheel.  I must say it was nice to be in the woods, get some fresh air and enjoy each other’s company. I got to hug my Mommy too.

Later that day we went to my inlaws, we stopped at Sonny’s grabbed some curbside pick up and brought dinner, watched a little YouTube (Traveling Robert’s Yellowstone, to be exact) and had a nice visit. We were even able to FaceTime Annette so she could wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day as well and be seen.

Some weekends we have been camping in our backyard since getting on this hamster wheel. We have been adding more stuff to the camper and getting ready for us to be able to hit the road.  Some parts of being on the perpetual hamster wheels have been ok, as we are able to concentrate on doing things to the house, camper and cabin that need to get done before we hit the road, which the date is coming up quick.

The normal hamster wheel looks something like this, we work all week, yoga Monday’s (oh how I miss yoga Monday’s), one Wednesday night a month, 3 miles from 3D, (we sort of made our own) one Friday am a month, dinner rides from our favorite bikes shops (Trek of St. Pete and ABC Bikes) (which they obviously had to be cancelled), oh how I miss those peeps, and for the last few years we have been camping at least one weekend a month somewhere not in our backyard.  So this staying home thing has enabled us to go to the cabin (we are self isolated up there, naturally), get some stuff done, to enable us to make it our future home base, work on the camper for things we want to get done and work on the house (which besides packing up some stuff not much has been done, yet). So staying at home has been somewhat productive.  But I must say it has been surreal.  

I went downtown a couple of weeks ago during the week just to get some photos of how things looked, during lunch time, during the week.  It was very strange.  It looked like we were expecting a hurricane, everything closed up, no tables out and pretty empty.  The few of us that were out were just walking or running for exercise but other than that it was empty.  Plenty of parking out there but of course nothing to do.

This past weekend it was a different story.  Saturday night Jes, Chris, Nick, the pups, Mike and I went to the dog beach at Ft. Desoto.  While I am no longer a huge beach person, I do love the sunsets and that night it did not disappoint.  It was crowded but again people kept their distance.  Sunday we headed downtown which was equally as packed but people seemed to be keeping their distances there as well.  We had breakfast at the Wooden Rooster, enjoying the outside tables as we are not ready to sit inside a restaurant just yet and besides the fresh air did us some good.

Some more positive outcomes with being on the hamster wheel  are changes that I have been making to assist us when we hit the road, I have upped my Zooming ability, which will assist me to be able to go remote,  working with someone on  a project that I can take anywhere (but can’t get started until all of this is over) I have decided to reopen my Etsy shop, and I have decided to become an Independent Wellness Advocate with doTerra. More about those changes to come. For now just trying to figure it all out and with all the extra time of not going out all the time having fun I am able to work on different projects that I have always wanted to get to.  

The thing I find most interesting about all of  this is the fact that the whole nation/world are all on the same hamster wheel, just trying to make it spin in the same direction.  We can speak to someone on the other side of the nation and ask them what’s going on and the answers are going to be about the same as what we are going through. It just proves that it is a small world and we are one in this world and fight.

Soon I will be able to get back to campground reviews and fun things on the weekends but for now it is what it is…. and until next time….

Keep spinning and stay safe….

Hope

Boyd Hill Preserve, St. Pete FL
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WEEKENDS TO REMEMBER #13, 14 AND 15, CORONA VIRUS, A BIKE RIDE, CAMPING IN THE BACKYARD AND TRIP TO THE CABIN

It’s a whole new world out there, as most of you we are self isolating, going out to stores only when essentially needed,  staying 6 feet away from everyone, washing the crap out of hands and trying our best to not touch our faces and also trying not to go insane.

How we come out on the other side of this Corona Virus pandemic remains to be seen, but I am sure we will each be a little different.  Maybe we realize that things we thought were essential aren’t really all that important anymore.  I know personally it has made me think of what is important in life but it also has made me miss certain portions of it that I took for granted, I miss our local breweries, local restaurants and I hope they survive this.  When all is said and done and things start opening up, I will be one of the first customers at my favorite brewery (oh how I miss you 3 Daughters), keeping my safe distance and enjoying a nice cold brew.

Anyway  we have been spending the this strange time differently.  We wonder what we can and cannot do to help us stay sane.  Week 13 took us on a bike date, a normal bike date would have had us at some breweries by early afternoon, but nothing was open, except for Wawa, so we got breakfast by bicycle and headed into Clam Bayou, where we had a lovely picnic of our breakfast Sizzlies, and then rode around, took the new extension trail into Gulfport.  We rode around there and saw all the new restaurants we want to go to after this is all over.  I had my camera so I took some great photos. The trail was fairly crowded but we kept our distance.  People seemed kinder, we all have this look of, mmmm, not sure what to call it, not necessarily fear but maybe uncertainty, whatever it is, it is a weird feeling.

Weekend 14 was a camping trip in our backyard.  Let me start this by stating that every month since we had the tiny camper, we had camping reservations somewhere. Living in Florida, these reservations were made months ahead of time,  sometimes close to a year in advance, but for whatever reason, I did not make any reservations for April or May this year.  As we were not socializing with anyone we decided to camp in the backyard.  I set up the “campground” just as I would if were were in a real campground.  The nice thing about it was the pet policy was very lenient, I was even able to give Eris, the lowrider camping hound, a bath in the bathhouse. Nick and Randy came over and had breakfast and lunch, all while keeping our safe distance of course. Mike worked on adding all the extras to the camper.  He redid the one wall with leftover flooring that our neighbor gave us, added a tv and a fireplace.  We didn’t go anywhere that weekend, and while I miss seeing someplace new and sightseeing it was really very peaceful and fun.    

Weekend 15 found us at the cabin.  Mike is finishing up the bathroom. It looks great. While we have had heat at home, and when we first got here, the first night got down to 45 degrees (that was in the morning when I got up).  Nothing else much to do except go on a wild flower walk.

That’s about all for the last three weekends.  While I still have to get out my blog on Savannah’s vacation, right now I just want to concentrate on what we can do and what we are doing during this crazy time. I miss my family, my friends and just want to around them and get hugs so Savannah’s happy trip will wait until the time  when we can all travel again.

So until next week, stay healthy, safe and wash your hands…oh and don’t touch your face.

Hope

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Weeks 4 & 5 of 52 Weekends to Remember

Week 4 took us to Swamphead Brewery in Gainesville where we attended the 3rd annual Wild & Scenic film festival presented by the Florida Trail Association. We had gotten reservations for Oleno State Park for one night and headed to the festival. It was a cold night but this year we were slightly more prepared for the evening that was predicted to be another cold one. We arrived at Oleno and hiked to the nature center and made it back in time to get ready to go to the festival. The festival consists of about 10 short adventure films that are generally quite exciting. The festival happens at a great brewery, appropriately named Swamphead (which happens to be Mike’s second fav brewery). After signing in we put our chairs down and got a cold beer and checked out the many vendor booths. It was a great night and great fun. We highly recommend if your in Florida the last weekend in January.

Week 5 took us to the cabin and we accidentally fell upon this location in the Twin Rivers State Forest. We headed down a long dirt road (glad we had the truck) to the very end which landed us at the Withlacoochee River. There were picnic tables there and I could see how one could boondock back there. We were there on a Sunday morning so no one else happened to be there but I imagine that it could be busy on other days for fishing, canoeing, possibly swimming and maybe camping.

I hope y’all enjoy weeks 4 & 5 in photos as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Travel on,

Hope

#52weekendstoremember; #travelphotography; #blogger; #sonya6000; #whatrwewaiting4

Swamphead and Oleno State Park
Twin Rivers State Forest

FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGN- BABCOCK RANCH ECO TOURS

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On December 8, 2019 for Mike’s birthday this year, I decided to take him someplace different so we headed to Babcock Ranch Eco Tours at Babcock Ranch Preserve for a swamp buggy ride.  The ranch is very large, 67,618 acres in Charlotte County, which is managed in cooperation with the Florida Forest Service.  It was one of the single largest purchases of conservation land in Florida’s history.  It has many diverse habitats, including prairie, and swamps,  hardwood forests, etc. While we were there we saw, deer, wild pigs (including cute, little piglets) Florida cracker cows, regular cows, alligators by the billions and tons of birds, including turkeys.  There is hiking opportunities but I believe the best way to see and learn about the vast preserve is to take the Eco Tour.

HISTORY: It was and still is a working ranch since 1914 which was comprised of 91,361 acres.  The Ranch produced timber, cattle, crops and sod.  In 2006  most of the preserve was sold to the State and the remaining is a private residential community.  The ranch today is still privately run but owned by the State.

THE TOUR: When arriving you walk down a little path to the visitor center.  We were welcomed by friendly staff, who like our narrator on the tour was passionate about their work.  There is also plenty to see right there, including caged (my favorite way to see them) snakes, and while we were there we saw Santa Claus and he was holding an alligator and then one of the snakes, there is a little museum which actually was a prop from a movie that was filmed there. There is a beautiful gift shop which sells all kinds of souveniers including  local honey, books, trinkets,  and much more.  We even got our picture taken with Santa with no snakes or alligators.

The Eco Tour is a 90  minute narrated tour which takes you through four different eco systems, including, you guessed it a swamp, which at this time of year was dry, which I think made for better wild life viewing, but we may have to go back when wet just to see.  The swamp buggies are really buses.   Our guide, Karlie, was a wealth of knowledge and passionate about her work and told us the history of the ranch, pointed things out that we might have missed, answered any questions we might have had.   The wild animals came up to the bus, as they obviously knew the sound of the buses, they came running, and waddling over to the bus for their treats they knew she had, except for the alligators of course. 

I think the Cracker Cows were my favorite, we learned that they are only bred to keep the breed alive.  The plentiful amount of  alligators was amazing to see all while safely on the bus.    Living here in Florida for most of my life one would think that seeing things like alligators would get old but it never does.    After the tour we went to eat at the Gator Shack where we had some amazing BBQ. Fair warning the portions are super large.  There is a walking tour however, after eating we were so stuffed we had a hard time even thinking about walking so decided that for the next time.  

THE COST: $24.00 adult, $23.00 for seniors, children 3-12 $16.00, 2 and under free.

Reservations can be made online, however they may have room if you didn’t make any plans and happen to be close enough, so give them a call at 1/800-500-5583.

LOCATION: 8502 FL-31, Punta Gorda, FL.  Turn at the bright flags that say Eco Tour and BBQ.  Turn down the road and keep driving to the end, can’t miss it.  You will pass a ton of  solar fields (which is pretty amazing on it’s own) and culverts which house many animals as well.

I left out somethings because I want to leave a little mystery to encourage other’s to head over to Babcock Ranch Preserve Eco Tours and experience it themselves.

Get out and see what the real Florida has to offer…

Until next time, follow a brown sign somewhere cool,

Hope

whatrwewaiting4.com

#babcockranchecotours; #realflorida; #followthebrownsigns; #sonya6000

 

 

CAMPGROUND REVIEW- FORT DESOTO PARK- Home Sweet Home….Not So Much

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When: October 18-20, 2019

Where: Fort Desoto Park, Pinellas County, Florida

Who: We organized this trip 7 months ahead of time. The we are Mike, Eris, the lowrider camping hound, and I on one site, Joe and Caren (who couldn’t come) on another, Annette and pups on another site and Cheri on another site and friends had an additional 4 sites.

Weather was supposed to be crappy, which we sort of figured even when were making reservations as we were camping with Joe. It always rains when Joe is camping. However, he outdid himself this time with a tropical storm. Because of the storm people canceled and there were a lot of empty sites.

Why check this place out, let me start and tell you why we will never come here again. Let’s start with the check-in: Fort Desoto is a Pinellas County Park, where I grew up, and am still a resident for a little longer, I went to plenty of parties here, my favorite beach of all time, I even camped here before. Location is conveniently located less than 10 miles from my sticks n’ bricks. I have been a Pinellas County resident for most of my life, went to school here, got married here, raised my children, etc., I am sure you get the point, it’s the county that is my home. As County residents we are able to make reservations 7 months ahead of time. That is the only benefit we receive, no discounts, no early checkin and no late checkouts. Just the ability to make the reservations one month earlier. When we were planning the trip 7 months earlier I made reservations for Annette (who is formally of Pinellas County, born and raised) using my address. At the same time Mike made reservations for us using our address. Now keep in mind we had a total of 8-9 campsites reserved by friends of Chery and Joe. The only one who didn’t live in Pinellas was Annette. Also, there was no where on the website that stated that only one reservation per address is allowed nor did their crappy website pick up on the fact that two reservations were made from the same address for the same weekend. I understand this rule- actually I don’t understand why my husband and I cannot reserve two sites as they aren’t giving us anything extra and we are paying for two sites and if that is a rule then it should be stated somewhere. Anyhow, we show up and they gave us grief and that was when we were checking in. At one point I was ready to say that’s fine give us our money back and we will leave now, leaving them with two more empty sites, as a lot of people were canceling due to the impending weather and they can try and fill it.

Secondly, there is no alcohol consumption allowed in the park. Not even on your site and they encourage people to tattle on others. There is fat fine for those who are caught with alcohol $118.00 ish per drink. I don’t really care that much if I want a drink I can always drink it inside my camper. However, when you are paying $40.00 per night for a campsite you should be able to sit at your picnic table while eating and have an adult beverage.

Thirdly, after weathering out a tropical storm we went ahead with our plans of a pot luck dinner at Chery’s site, which compared to most of ours was the driest. We carried all our food down there (love my wagon) and Joe drove down as he had an extra tables and grill. Shortly, after eating we were sitting around in a circle and chatting and the ranger came over and said only two vehicles allowed, all three were all on the site and not an inch of any of them were in the road. Joe said ok he would move his back down to his site, ranger asked which site, he told him and that the only reason it was there was to transport the tables and such, instead of the ranger saying that’s fine just make sure it is moved by the end of the night he made him move it. One would think that would make the ranger move on but no, he was nosy and was trying to see if any of us had any alcohol. Keep in mind we aren’t young people average age was probably 45-50, we weren’t loud we were sitting around the, oh wait I was going to say fire pit, but that would be an extra fee, so just in a circle, which leads me to my fourth complaint the costs for lack services…

It was $40 ish dollars per night, not worth it to have to deal with the nasty, unwelcoming Park rangers, with their unbendable rules and to be nickeled to death. The only amenities they have are bathrooms with showers, picnic tables and grills on each site and dump.

Finally, my last complaint is the amount of pet sites. There are 236 sites only 78 are open to pets, leaving 158 sites for the pet less folks, hence the problem with getting a site. I don’t have as much of a problem with this, however, the pets are not allowed to even be walked beyond the pet area, again not very welcoming to say the least.

So reasons to go, the views, not so much in the campground as outside. There is a nice trail that will take you to the beach, which I may be partial are the best beaches. There is a fishing pier and a fort to explore. So biking, walking, fishing and exploring the the beach are the reasons. Oh and believe it or not it even has a dog beach.

I will keep my Ft. Desoto trips to day trips only.

That being said even with all the negatives it was still fun to camp with friends, we brought our propane fire pit, and made s’mores while standing under the awning in the rain, there was mud for the dogs to walk through, and had shared meals with others and made some new friends. However, the next trip I would suggest we hop over the Skyway and go to Little Manatee River State Park and rent as many sites as we want, where the rangers are pleasant and the hosts are as well.

Until next time, happy camping,

Hope

Whatrwewaiting4….

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CAMPGROUND REVIEW-TORREYA STATE PARK

Mike, Eris, the lowrider camping hound, and I went to Torreya State Park in Bristol, FL on August 31, 2019 through September 4, 2019.

There are many reasons to check out this place, one of which is the hiking, and the views. We have been there before to backpack and if one went there blindfolded when the blindfold was removed one would swear that they were dumped in North Carolina not north Florida. When we came in 2003 it was very different then this year. In 2003 we did the Torreya Challenge hiking trail which it was very challenging and very beautiful.

This year however it was very different. Only about 3 miles of the trails are left now after the 2018 Hurricane Michael destroyed the area. The best way to describe it was that Mother Nature picked up all the trees and just dropped them. Reminded me of a game of pick up sticks. The trails are slowly being rebuilt but not sure if they will be restored in my lifetime. There were signs at the entrances of what was once a trailhead saying to stay off the trails as they were destroyed when 155 mile per hour winds came through the park. This might be a good time to mention that this park is not on the coast it is about 80ish miles away. Hard to imagine being that far away from the coast and being hit with a category 5 hurricane. The surrounding neighborhoods were nearly destroyed. Most houses had a new roof, needed a new roof or were abandoned. I felt horrible for the residents, as it seems like all the help that did come went to the wealthier areas such as the beaches and this area was forgotten about.

But back to the campground review. What thankfully did remain and had minimal damage was the Gregory House. It is a mansion built by Jason Gregory, who was a prominent plantation planter in 1849. It stood across the Apalachicola River from where it is currently. The river served as a “highway” during the Civil War. However, after the war Mr Gregory moved away and the house had seen hard times. One of the daughters did move back to the home, restored it and lived there until her death. When the state park was created in the 1930’s the Neal Lumber Company donated the home to the park as a gesture of support for the park. It was taken apart and moved across the river to the park for reconstruction on the bluff where it remains today. The CCC carefully put it back together and they even used the original wood pegs instead of nails. There are tours given daily and it is well worth the little fee of $2.00 per person.

While we were there every morning I hiked down and then back up to the Gregory House to see the magnificent views, which were plentiful.

The park is named after the rare Torreya tree, which can only be found in north Florida, California and China.

The campground is very different from most of Florida’s state parks. It too is on a bluff with a deck with an awesome overlook. The sites (1-15) themselves are small and do not offer much privacy as they almost touch the neighbors, but it was good and so nice to explore the area. There is also a yurt and a cabin which can be rented. There is a bathhouse which has toilets and showers as well as a shower house. We did do the few trails that were open, but it was sad to see the damage that remained from the hurricane.

We explored Apalachiola National Forest, which I highly recommend. By the looks of it the forest faired better than their northern neighbors during Michael.

We will return sometime as there is still much to see. Hopefully for all the residents and future visitors things will get rebuilt soon.

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PHOTO HIKE-Brooker Creek Preserve -10/26/2019

My friend, Marci and I attended a photo hike at Brooker Creek Preserve. Our guides opened our eyes to look at the environment around us differently. We saw things we may have otherwise overlooked. I believe I can speak for both of us when I say we learned a lot about the park and about photographing nature.

Brooker Creek Preserve is located in Pinellas County and is owned by the County government and Southwest Florida Management District. It is 8700 acres and is the largest natural area in Pinellas County. Entrance to the preserve is open at 7:00 am consists primarily of forested wetlands and pine flat woods. Mike and I had hiked there previously on a couple of occasions however both of our hikes resembled swims more than hikes. This time what we hiked was dry but we were not able to go on all of the trails as there was a wildfire there not long ago so some of the trails were closed. So maybe next time. What we saw this time was pretty amazing.

Visitors can start their day at the Nature Center and get trail maps, hit the trails and be sure to return to the Nature Center to check out the exhibits and the gift shop. There are also guided hikes quite often. I highly suggest checking out the schedule. Leaving the Nature Center there are boardwalks and nature trails. While we were there, there was flowers in bloom and we saw some birds but next time we will try and get there as the gates are opening because that’s when the wildlife is there.

This park can be enjoyed by all ages. I highly recommend it for people with young children and for the old as well. So when in the area be sure to check it out.

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CAMPGROUND REVIEW-Little Manatee River State Park

We went for a quick weekend down to Little River State Park in Wimama, Florida.

We arrived on Friday August 16, 2019 and left on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

The attendees were Mike, Nick Eris, Jodie and I on site 20 and Steve, Rosie, Jax and Mia on site 2.

It was nice and close to home and easy to get to. We had a ton of rain prior to our arrival so everything was flooded. The river was too flooded to kayak on so we will save that for next time and the trails were too flooded to be hiked upon so we will save that for another time as well. Even though we couldn’t go hiking or kayaking we still had a nice time.

The campground has some nice size sites but ours was small. Glad we didn’t have anyone else cuz we were pretty squished. The bathroom was under construction so they had the portable ones with a showers. They were neat and tidy.

We have been here plenty of times to do the 6.5 mile stacked loop on the north side of the park, which have been called muck and roots previously. We didn’t even attempt to go there since the trails on the campground side were flooded we could only assume the other side was worse. The campground side also has 15 miles of equestrian and multi purpose trail that was mostly under water. There is equestrian camping here as well.

Normally this is one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in southwest Florida but since it was so swollen it was hard to see. We have also paddled this many years ago and had a great time.

Even though we could not use all of the park we still had a great time. Camping with family and friends is always great. We will return as it is super close to home and easy to get there and maybe next time we will be able to participate in all the park has to offer.

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FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGNS AND CAMPGROUND REVIEW-Silver Springs State Park

This is going to be a combination of Following the Brown Signs and a campground review as they are one in the same. Let’s start with the

CAMPGROUND REVIEW:

The Who: Mike, Eris,the lowrider camping hound, Nick, Jodie and I went for a weekend of seeing the very first Florida attraction.

The Where: Silver Springs State Park, the campground entrance is located at 1425 NE 58th Avenue, Ocala, Florida.

The When: July 19-21, 2019

The Lowdown: We headed up on Friday afternoon. Not too far from the house so we were able to make it before the park closed. Always a positive thing. After setting up we went to El Toro Mexican Restaurant. The food was authentic and fabulous, it is on Silver Springs Blvd in Ocala. After dinner we headed back to the campground and walked around what I like to call a cracker village. Took the pups for a walk and went to bed. After a nice sleep we started our day with another walk and then to Silver Springs (the attraction). I will go into more details of all there is to offer in the following the brown signs segment. Just know that 2 days is not enough time to see all there is to see.

The Campground: The campground has 59 campsites, that can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet, with 50/30 amp service. There are some with full hook up but all have electric and water. There are two sections each with 2 loops. There are many pull through sites. Which is what we opted for. When making reservations I wasn’t sure if we would make it before dark so for the ease of pulling in, possibly in the dark, I opted for the pull through. Not sorry at all. We had a great site in with our living area facing the woods. There are also 10 beautiful cabins for those who don’t want to camp. Our Verizon and Nick’s AT&T worked flawlessly.

The Reasons to Go: There is so many reasons to go, which I will get into more details in the following the brown signs, but there is paddling, hiking, a museum, a spring, a nearby fort and who wouldn’t want to see the first Florida attraction.

Let’s get to the Following the Brown Sign:

This has been a natural landmark since the 1870’s.

History: Florida’s oldest attraction with glass bottom boats which showcase the crystal clear springs and underwater life. It is also the gateway to the Ocala National Forest. In 1971 it was designated s National Natural Landmark which offers a wealth of cultural and historical significance. This is shown through the displays above and below the water. Native Americans lived there and there is tangible evidence of their existence above and below the water. There is a dug our canoe that can be seen at the bottom of the river (Silver River). The Spanish (deSoto) visited the area and it is thought that was the first European to experience the park. There are a vast collection of natural habitats.

In 1985 the state bought 5000 acres of undeveloped land. In 1987 they turned it over to the Department of Rec and Parks and created Silver River State Park.

The Silver River Museum was the only thing developed in 1987 when the State acquired the property. In 1999 they built the ranger station, then the cabins and campground.

In 1993 the state purchased the headwaters Silver Springs and it was controlled by the previous owners. In 2013 the Florida Park Service acquired management of the headsprings area and at that time the name changed for the entire park from Silver River State Park to Silver Springs State Park.

About the park: The Park is split in two parts. The campground area, which has the many hiking trails and the Silver River Museum and the cracker village (a collection of old homes, school, store, church, etc.) and the Springs side, which houses the actual attraction of the glass bottom boats, a little museum, restaurant, ice cream shop, canoe/kayak rental, gift shop. The park is open 365 days a year, 8 am to sundown. The museum is open to the public on weekends and state holidays, 10 am to 4 pm. To get into the museum it is the usual state park entrance fee which at Silver Springs is $8.00 per carload. There is a $2.00 per person fee to get into the museum. On the spring side of the park, parking is free and entrance fee is $2.00 per person. However, if you are staying in the campground the entrance fee is free. The glassbottom boat ride is $11.00 per person for 30 minute ride (which we feel is long enough) they do offer a 90 minute ride as well. There are walkways where the monkeys are seen. The monkeys are known to throw poop so I was glad we did not see any. Kayaks can be rented. Since we did not get to rent the kayaks I will save that for another time. There were tons of movies made here.

On Sunday we went to the museum and then we headed over to Fort King which is down the road a bit just to check it out. It was interesting but not too much to write about.

There is a ton of history in the area and a ton to learn about.

We did not get to do everything the park has to offer and will return. The winter would be a much better time to go. I can see why the park is a favorite of many.

Till next time… Hope

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CAMPGROUND REVIEWS, FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGN AND ALL BECAUSE OF YOUTUBE

Campground Reviews:  This section will be short and sweet, because the campgrounds weren’t what this trip was about.  There were two, but it was mostly a place to lay down our heads and sleep.  So let’s get started shall we?

Mike and I  left Wednesday, June 26 after work and headed to Ellaville “RV PARK”, I use that term very loosely because it was about 8 pull through sites, with no amenities  right on US 90 with full hookups and made for the perfect place for us to pull in, plug in and hit the sack and get a good nights sleep at 11:00 p.m., when we arrived.  We would have stayed at a Walmart but June, nearly July in Florida is not exactly conducive to getting a good night sleep without ac.  Ellaville is a ghost town on US 90 about 4 miles from our property and right next to the Suwannee River State Park, which we highly recommend.  One might ask why we didn’t stay there, short answer is we just wanted to sleep with ac for the night so this fit the bill perfectly and was only $20, which we put in an envelope and placed it in the electric outlet when we left.  It was super easy to pull in, pull out.  After we woke up we had breakfast and hit the road.  But before leaving we heard a loud crash, I thought it was ice cracking and Mike thought it sounded like glass breaking.  I will tell more about what that was later.  When we were ready, we started our journey westward to our target destination, Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale, Alabama.

Rainbow Plantation is an Escapees RV Park.  This is the first one we stayed at.  Price was reasonable and was recommended as one the of the places to stay by Kyle and Olivia, best known  as Drivin’ & Vibin’, which was the reason to go to Alabama to begin with for their reveal of the Airstream Argosy, which is beautiful, more on that later as well. Back to the review of the campground.  Each site has full hookup, which was a first for us, well the night before we had full hookup but that didn’t count since we didn’t even unhook from the truck.  Our site, number 46, was in the middle of the trees.  There was a fabulous looking pool, which we did not use, a clubhouse with activities, which we did not attend,  because we weren’t there for the campground, we had other intentions.  The campsites did not have picnic table nor a fire ring, (not that we needed a fire anyways it was a) too, too, too hot, b) we weren’t staying at the campground except to eat and sleep and c) it was way too wet to even get a fire started). We did  set up our carpet, chairs, and table, opened the awning and headed to LuLu’s.  Next time, we will plan on bringing bikes and use the pool.  It was a nice stay and wish it was longer.  That’s pretty much it on the campground review, on to the Following the Brown Signs…..

We only got to follow two brown signs on this trip.  The first one was  Falling Water’s State Park.  It is known as one of Florida’s hidden treasures, with a 73 foot waterfall.  However, it needs to rain a lot for there to be any water actually falling, it was a trinkle.  We have been here before when the girls were young and we had the same result, no water falling at the waterfall.  Oh well, maybe next time. I was also able to get my Florida State Park passport stamped.   While there we checked out the campground.  The campground is located on one of the highest hills in Florida.  It is 324 feet above sea level.  We almost needed to get oxygen for the journey, just kidding.  The campground was just ok, with smallish sites and a weird layout and  there are many other’s I want to stay at before staying there but it was good to check it out.  The park itself is very pretty with steep hills, which is surprising in Florida. To get to the waterfalls there are boardwalks to get you down to it. It was too hot for us to explore too much so we got in the truck and headed out of the park, if we didn’t have a destination to get to we might have gone for a swim. Heading out of the park our engine brake came on, which we didn’t even know it had.  So that was interested and reassuring.  So west we headed. The other brown sign and I am not even sure it is a brown sign but we will call it that happens on Friday at the Gulf State Park in Alabama.  More of that to come.  Back to journey as we head west.

After a longish ride we finally made it to our destination, it was near 3 p.m. which was perfect as the office was closed until that time even though our paperwork was on the bulletin board awaiting our arrival.  We set up camp and headed to LuLu’s, where Kyle was playing (not only are Olivia and Kyle talented YouTube creators they can also sing and have a band).  Since we like live music and are fans of these super talented young people we did what was natural and headed to LuLu’s, which is also perfect because Mike being the parrothead that he is, and this is Jimmy Buffett’s sister’s place, and it also helps they have beer.  We arrived there near 5 and the place was packed, and if we wanted a table we would have had a 3 hour 45 minute wait, luckily the bar is first come first serve and we could also order food there.  Our seats were perfect and overlooked the stage.  After a few songs Mike went down and introduced himself to Kyle and told him we were part of the “Vibe Tribe” and were in town for the reveal.  During the break Kyle cme up and sat with us for a bit, which was totally awesome.

We headed back to the campground (oh by the way traffic sucks there just as much as it does in St. Pete/Clearwater), the wind was picking up and there were some serious thunderstorms in the distance, and all we could think of how we were stupid to leave the awning out on the camper, which we knew better but it was like 0% chance of rain. We couldn’t get back fast enough and were hoping our awning was ok.  Which thankfully it was.  The rain came down like buckets and the wind was crazy.  When we pulled up Mike hit the fob on the door, from the truck, (one of our newest additions to the camper-keyless entry, oh yeah) and we headed in, pulled the awning in, we sat up for a bit (cell service sucked) and hit the hay.  In the middle of the night, the rain and wind were super crazy, at one point  I thought we were  on the boat.  I thought for sure when we got up in the morning the table and chairs would be scattered across the campground.  I am guessing the trees offered some sort of protection as all was good in the morning and the stuff was mostly dry.  This is the time I will fill you in on the loud crash we heard back in Ellaville, we think it was ice melting in the ac.  When we got up, the compressor wasn’t working well if at all. We figure the ac froze up, without our ladder there was no way to tell for sure.  I cooked breakfast outside so not to heat up the place and we ate at our little table.  Before leaving to do some touristy things we turned the ac off.

Our first touristy thing to do that day was to go to Buc-ee’s.  What is Buc-ee’s you ask? It is a huge and when say huge I mean HUGE or SUPER HUGE gas station.  Yes it is a gas station on steroids, with over 100 gas pumps  but only for private cars, campers and such.  Not sure if any of them have the ability for 18 wheelers to come in but this location did not.  It has a huge store with beef jerky, pastries, and sandwiches.  They have clothes and of course touristy like gifts as well. After our trip to Buc-ee’s we headed to Fairhope, which took us to  Warehouse Donuts.  We got a couple little sandwiches, a donut (Mike’s choice) and a cinnamon bun (my choice) to go.  Warehouse Donuts is a nice place with amazing food besides just donuts.

After Warehouse we headed to the beach, which may or may not be considered a brown sign, we will call it one just the same.  Gulf State Park, Alabama, which was another suggested location to camp at.  However, in retrospect we are content where we stayed because it was closer to where we wanted and needed to be.  Gulf State Park is one of the 4 best state parks in Alabama that is listed in our National Geo’s State Park Guide.  Anyway, as the name implies it is on the Gulf of Mexico with 2.5 miles of white-sand beach, it has boardwalks that connect the very large campground (496 sites), 20 cabins and 11 cottages to the beach. However, if you are staying in the campground there are bike paths that can take you there as well.  The campground is on the other side of the road, so the boardwalks make it a safe journey if you are going by bike or walking.  After paying our little entrance fee ($2.00) into the park we headed to the Nature Center (which is free), what we found weird was we drove straight through the campground, some of the sites are right on the road.  The campground is nice but the sites are sort of close to each other and being that it is on the beach in the open.  By the Nature Center there is a large pavilion where we ate our lunch that we purchased at Warehouse.  The cinnamon bun was amazing, which I of course shared with Mike (there was no way I could have eaten it by myself anyways).  Sitting under the pavilion was very pleasant.  The temperature was about 20 degrees cooler.  There is a huge laundry room and a campstore, with basic stuff and campground gifts.  We went to the Nature Center  which was cool it had the basic animals like snakes, turtles and some birds.  There is also a huge pool, which probably has a separate charge for, we didn’t check it out because we wanted to see the beach.  It was super hot so we opted to drive over instead of taking the long hike over.  When we arrived there were big heads to pay for parking.  There was a solar equipped building at the top of the parking lot and it had also another huge pavilion.  There were beautiful boardwalks to take us to the beach.  Which was very beautiful with the white sand.  We hung up out for a bit, waded in the water and headed back to the truck.  We decided to go check out the pier while we were there. The pier is the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico.  Parking was free but when we got out to the pier there was a fee to head to the end.  We saw enough and it wasn’t close to sunset so we figured why pay  and we headed back to our campground.  We may come back there someday to camp but only if we plan on hanging out there for most of the time.

There are some trips that are centered around the campground but this was not one of them. The wind was picking up again and the rain had started by the time we got home.  We put the ac on and it worked flawlessly (maybe turning the temp up a little bit may have helped-still not sure).  We cooked dinner of tacos and thought we might head into Fairhope to go to the brewery.  Lucky for us we were finally able to get Google Maps to work and it said it was closed, so with nothing really to do we stayed at home.  This would have been a good evening to sit outside and enjoy the campground had it not been for the rain.

Saturday morning, we woke up to a nice cool camper, but to be on the safe side we turned the ac off prior to leaving.  Today was the big day, the reveal of the Argasy and the reason for our trip to begin with.  We headed down to Fairhope for Warehouse Donuts, this should not surprise anyone, and had a delicious breakfast of biscuits, I had chicken and Mike had some meat and eggs.  We then went to Fairhope Brewery where the morning program of the reveal was.  After meeting some very nice folks and hearing the presentations we headed to Big Daddy’s where the reveal was actually going to be. We are all at different stages of our journeys, but we are all heading in the same direction.  We had lunch and mingled, had a presentation from Dennis the CEO of  Battleborn Batteries and if were weren’t before we are now convinced lithium is the way to go, so before hitting the road we will be getting a couple if not four Battleborn lithium batteries.  After talking to people Mike wanted to upgrade our suspension components on the trailer (Moryde).  That is exactly what he is doing now as I write this.  Then we got the reveal we all got to go in and check out the Argosy. It is so beautiful and they did an amazing job. It is not something I would want to undertake ever.  After the reveal we had a little over an hour to kill before the live music back at the brewery.  A few of us headed to the Fairhope History Museum, oh wait this could be considered a third brown sign, so there were three brown signs afterall.

Fairhope History Museum is a free museum that explains the history of Fairhope and how it is the oldest single tax colony in the US.  What is the Fairhope single tax? It refers to an economic principle where the government taxes only land (rent), a single tax, no taxes on one’s labor/wages or capital.  The land was/is owned by a corporation and leased out  and a single tax was/is paid a/k/a rent.  Leases are for 99 years which is as secure as a deed for the lessee.  Major funding of the library, Museum, hospital, college  and other places are examples of the building projects provided because of the single tax, which while modified has survived.  The museum was interesting, it used to be the fire department, mayor’s office and the police department with it’s two cell jail.

After the museum we walked around Fairhope for a bit.  Fairhope is a quint southern town.  If we had time we would have walked to the pier but we will have to save that for the next time.  After a small tour  we headed back  to the brewery to listen to the band, have some good beer and just enjoy getting to know everyone else that was there for the reveal.  After the band was done playing they mingled with us and we ordered food from the food truck and were eating together. We hung out, got to know each other, exchanged numbers and are hopeful that we will see each other down the road again sometime soon. I looked around the table and brought it to Kyle and Olivia’s attention, that life long friends were made here today all because of YouTube.

It was a great long weekend and we hated to head back east but that is what we did on Sunday morning.  Soon our adventure won’t have to end with Monday morning’s alarm clock it will be the beginning, until then….

Hope to see you down the road sometime,  thanks for reading,

Hope

 

 

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FOLLOWING THE BROWN SIGNS…..#2 CORKSCREW SWAMP SANCTUARY

As promised here is number 2 of the following the brown sign….

Following another brown sign on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019 was my Mother’s Day gift to me from my loving Husband and to my  bestest Mom, who is always up for an adventure.  This has been a place I have wanted to see ever since my old boss (circa 1999) told me all about it, yes finally after 20 years I finally got here.  They have events all year long, however, summer is upon us so the events will be slowing down until fall I imagine, or our perceived fall in Florida, even though it will be as hot as it was on Mother’s Day.  W.e will look at the calendar though and keep up with what is going on because they have things like night hikes, a night hike on the swamp will be amazing.

Corkscrew Swamp is a series of boardwalks located in the western part of the Everglades, even though we saw some hikes that are lead through the actual swamp, I don’t think I want to do that.  Corkscrew was established to protect the largest remaining stand of ancient bald cypress that are left in North America. During the 40’s and 50’s the cypress forests in Florida were being leveled for their timber, the National Audubon had protected the birds within Corkscrew back in 1912 and at that time realized that the forest must be saved.  In 1955 the first boardwalk  was constructed thanks to the National Audubon Society, who had accepted responsibility to manage the area.  When the area was acquired in 1954 it was impossible to access.  Today, visitors can enjoy the natural systems of the real Florida.

The location of this beautiful oasis is 375  Sanctuary Road, Naples Florida, their phone number is 239/348-9151.  The cost is adults ($14.00) (so worth it) children/student (6-18) $4.00 and children under 6 free, discounts for National Audubon Society members ($10.00) and Full-time college students ($6.00-must have id). The hours are 7 am to 5:30 p.m. every day,  the last admission to the boardwalk is one hour before closing time (4:30 p.m.).  We were warned about black/deer fly’s this time of year, we however did not encounter any or should I say they did not encounter us.

We arrived at 10:30 ish and went to the visitor’s center, which houses a gift shop, a cafeteria type restaurant, and a exhibits as well as movie.  As we were there to hit the trails/boardwalk we decided that we would do all of that when we returned.  The boardwalk is 2.25 mileish along the swamp.  It is so green and lush and most thankfully were tree covered and shady.  The boardwalk starts out on the prairie but as soon as we got across the prairie, the big, beautiful trees take over and it becomes a shady hike, still hot but at least it is shady.     Besides the old trees and plants the wildlife was amazing.  We saw  barred owls, (2), an otter (which sadly he was too quick to get a pic), wood stock (a young one), anhingas, lizards (bright green anole) a skink (too fast to get a good pic), assuming it is pig frog and a mamma gator and her 12 babies.  What I was happy I did not see was a pygmy rattlesnake.  The flowers were plentiful.  After the walk we headed back to the visitor’s center where we sat and watched the informative film and cooled down.  We had a great time and were told by my mommy that it was one of the best Mother’s Day she has had.

Bottomline, we will be back and we will be on the lookout for a special program like a night hike. I urge all visitor’s to Florida to come and see the real Florida and this is a great way to do it.

Hike on…. Hope

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Cary State Forest, Florida CAMPGROUND REVIEW

THE WHO:, Mike, me, Eris the lowrider camping hound, Nick, Jodie, Annette, Nora, Elsa and Sam, on two sites and the dogs outnumbered the humans as they usually do.

THE WHERE: Cary State Forest, Florida

THE WHEN: February 22-25, 2019

THE LOWDOWN: There are only 7 sites in this campground in this huge 13,385 acre forest, it is located in northeast Florida, near Jacksonville, there is hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.

THE CAMPGROUND: With only 7 sites in this huge forest there is plenty of room on and between the sites. Of the 7 sites, 6 have electric and water and one is primitive. Of the 6 that have electric and water only 5 of them can be reserved, leaving one as a walk-up/drive-up site.

When I say the sites are large, I mean super large. The each have concrete slab, picnic table, firepit. We had site #2 and Annette had site #3.

We went hiking, while the dogs were allowed on the trail, causing them (especially Eris the lowrider camping hound) to need baths when we returned. To say it was muddy in spots is an understatement.

There is a very nice bathhouse with two showers and a dump station conveniently located (not that we used it because we were in our tiny camper) at the beginning or end of the loop whichever way you look at it.

THE REASON TO GO: The peace and quiet that the woods have to offer is abundant here, even though there is an occasional train. While sitting at my campsite you can barely see Annette’s camper from here because of the distance. There are tall pines and palmetto scrub. The birds were singing and the smells of the pine forest cannot be beat. The hiking is plentiful and pretty, with boardwalks and some areas that have no boardwalks, hence the dogs getting dirty.

Joshua Tree to Williams and Grand Canyon and Favorite Item of the Week

We left Joshua Tree to make it towards Grand Canyon.  We made it after a very long drive to Williams where we found a decent campsite and then headed to the little town of Williams.  It is such a cute little town that really is the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  They Grand Canyon Railroad takes off from there and if we didn’t have a 4 legged kid with us we would have done it.  Anyway, we were only gonna stay at the campground that we stayed at for one night and then move closer to the Grand Canyon but there was things we needed to do in Williams so we stayed where we were and drove the hour to the park.  

The campground we stayed at was Garland Prairie Road Dispersed Camping.  It was free and was really a nice area. My only complaint was no real workable cell service.  We figured ok, next place will have it so we will just suffer it out until then.  

We headed into the Grand Canyon in the afternoon on the second day and it was a good time to go, crowds were lighter and our wait to get in was not so bad.  Well the I should say the crowds were lighter as far as waiting at the gate and parking.  However, the first thing the both of us thought was wow this is like Animal Kingdom (Disney for those of you who aren’t familiar), heavy crowds and sort of hot.  We got the papers from the Rangers and got the lay of the land.  Eris was able to do anything on top of the rim, which I was good with that, I didn’t have any intentions of hiking down at least not this time.  So we hiked the rim and oh my it did not disappoint. I am grateful for digital camera and I did not have to print the what would have been rolls and rolls of film in my previous days.  We headed into the park twice like this, in the afternoon and the second time in we did the scenic drive and again were not disappointed.  We did see some Elk, and deer on both days.  Eris really doesn’t know what to make of them.  Really since we weren’t really going to be doing any of the hikes other then on the rim two days or should I say 1 full day was really enough.  The beauty was amazing and every step we took was breathtaking.  But after a while we realized that everywhere we turned would not look much different then the other locations.  

One day while there we headed into Williams to go to the laundromat.  It was clean and reasonable.  Another evening we were so looking forward to going to the Grand Canyon Brewery.  Well when we got there we were sadly disappointed. It was filled to capacity and no one, I mean no one, except us was wearing a mask.  Felt so unsafe.  We had Covid once and we do not want to get it again. So we left. 

Another day we took a drive to Flagstaff, what a beautiful place.  We could move there if we didn’t already have our winter home in Florida.  We took Eris to the groomer, got her bathed and nails done, got an oil change in the truck, found an REI where we got Eris a pair of boots, she was not thrilled with them when we tried them on her but she may like them in the future.  Also, we decided that all the REI’s out here have amazing views.  The view was San Fransciso mountain range.  Mike asked the girl at REI and said if there is one thing we have to do in Flagstaff what would it be, she did not hesitate to say Snow Bowl. We were taking the scenic drive home so we passed right but the mountain pass that took us up to Snow Bowl.  Eris did not know what to make of that white stuff.  We didn’t try her in the boots, maybe we should have.  Snow Bowl itself was closed but there were trailheads there.  We weren’t really prepared for snow and ice so we headed back down.  We drove the rest of the beautiful drive back home and just chilled.  

After a few days we figured we have seen enough and were ready to move on and on the morning we decided we needed to head down to lower elevation we woke up to 15 degrees.  We were headed to Sedona for a few days to check out the red rocks.  

So be sure to check back next week to hear all about our stay in Sedona. 

This week I am most grateful for the addition of the handle on our screen door.  Where we are currently it is 25-30 mph winds with 50 mph gusts.  It’s crazy, to hear about this be sure to check back with us next week. 

If you want up to date status be sure to check out our Instagram page, I update that daily.  @what_r_we_waiting_4 

Until next week, if you enjoyed this be sure to like and consider following us and subscribing to the email list.  

Hope, Mike and Eris

Week One of Fulltiming

We left St. Pete, our home forever to start our next adventure on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. We headed to the cabin for two nights.  We were able to get the utility trailer emptied before we left.  The cabin has always felt to me a great place to escape the city.  It dawned on me that while our mailing address is in St.  Pete our home is wherever we park it and our sticksnbricks is the cabin.  We got up early to extremely cold weather and unloaded the utility trailer, with Annette’s help and closed up the cabin for the next 9 months.  First stop was Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for  two nights.   

Topsail is beautiful with full hookups and concrete or gravel pads.  Nice size sites. Walk-in tent sites and cabins  mixture of bungalows and mobile homes.  The best part is its trails and proximity to the beach.  There are shuttles to go to the beach or you can just walk. It, of course, was raining almost the whole time we were there and when we left.  We were smart this time and put our chairs away before the rain. It was a beautiful first stop and we highly recommend this park.   We decided to make Friday’s our find our local craft brewery. We found Grayton Beer Co this week and were not disappointed.

We went through Alabama onward to Mississippi. We had reservations at Shepard State Park.  Nice enough site, but very uneven, gravel sites.    Apparently though they don’t clean the campsites between guests. We picked up a trashbag worth of trash left by others. There is 28 sites and a really new bathhouse.  There are some interesting hiking trails.  Deep woods and 1000 feet away is marsh land.Beautifiul in it’s own way.  The storms of last summer really paid a toll on this park.  There were picnic tables which we could tell were swept in by storm surge and thrown into the trees, plus a lot of “floatable”, ie cups etc., were washed in way up on the trails. We can tell alot of improvements are happening in this park.  They have a new ranger station which will also house a gift shop/campstore, which should be opening soon, they have a new boardwalk, which probably replaced something that was there but probably destroyed.  The trails have been maintained but I imagine there was more markings on the trail which is still missing.  There is an archery range, some of them only Catness can hit I am sure.  There is disc golf course, which looks pretty intense, a dog park, some primative camp sites.  All and all we enjoyed ourselves here.  The campground makes you feel like you are still camping.  The days were mostly nice and evenings even nicer.  We also got to put another state sticker on our map.  

We went to our first national park of this trip.  It was Gulfshores National Seashore.  Quite beautiful.  The visitor center was still closed because of Covid and some of the trails were destroyed in the storms.  The campground was open and I was able to get my National Park Passport Book stamped.  

While in Mississippi we also saw Buffett Beach, obviously we had to stop and get a picture of it.

The odd thing I find with all the marshes I would have thought we would have seen some wildlife, except for the stupid snake we really didn’t see anything.  

We are spending  4 nights here and tomorrow we head to NOLA.  When we picked 2.2 as our date to take off it was to attend Mardi Gras, well all the fesitivities for that have been cancelled.  But we will find plenty to do I am sure, not to mention just some basic life items.  First thing first is to get my credit card replaced.  Before we even left Florida my card got jacked.  So we immediately called Chase to have another one issued.  I called Bayou Segnette State Park, (our LA park) and asked if they would accept mail for us.  They said they would so hopefully when we arrive it will be there.  We also need to get the ac in the truck fixed, not that we have needed much ac now but we will soon, so we made an appointment for that this week, and while Mike is dealing with that Eris and I will hang at the campsite, get some work done and do laundry.  I don’t know how much help she will be. We will go to some of the things we wanted to see the last two times we were there but didn’t get to do.  We will have fun there for sure.  Then it is off to Texas. 

Follow along for our adventures, you never know where we will be, we certainly don’t…..

If you like this give it a like and share it and follow us.  Thanks,

Until next week,

Hope, Mike and Eris the LowRider Camperhound